Amid rising oil prices, a Topsham business has started its own fund to help seniors heat their homes this winter.

Morningstar Stone and Tile employee Lesa Lemar founded the Morningstar Home Heating Relief Fund in 2019 in honor of her father Jack Maier. She said her father was a Vietnam veteran living off of Social Security who struggled to pay his heating bills before his death in 2020.

Jack Maier of Freeport with daughter Lesa Lemar of Pittston. Photo contributed by Lesa Lemar

Lemar said she helped her father pay his bills but worried about seniors who didn’t have that kind of support. This was her reason for starting a heating relief fund, funded by donations, that gives 100% of its proceeds to seniors in need, she said.

“I’m so thankful if someone gives us even $25,” Lemar said. “I feel so bad for these older people who are going to have to choose, ‘Do I take my medicine this month, buy food or heat my home?’ It breaks my heart that you’ve worked all your life and, when you’re retired, you must choose between basic necessities.”

In September 2021, the average cost of oil was $2.69 per gallon, which has spiked to $4.44 per gallon today, according to

Topsham resident Pricilla Laganiere, 91, said help heating her home would be a financial relief. She said that with the rising cost of oil, food and property taxes, she’s worried about losing her home.


“I’ve been praying for something to happen,” said Laganiere, who just spent $650 to fill her oil tank.

Last year, Morningstar Home Heating Relief Fund raised $17,000 and helped 21 families heat their homes for the winter, according to the fund’s Vice President Anne Heelan. She said each household received up to $750 in assistance.

Morningstar joins the ranks with other established heating assistance programs, notably the Home Energy Assistance Program, which also provides heating assistance for Mainers living on a fixed income.

Unlike state-administered programs like HEAP, Lemar said her charity solely supports seniors and has less “red tape” to qualify. She said it’s an honor-based system and doesn’t require applicants to submit paystubs or tax forms. Recipients must be Maine residents, 65 or older and live on a fixed income.

Lemar said her fundraising goal this year is $20,000. Funds raised by Lemar are distributed through Maine Community Action Partnership, a state advocacy program.

To donate to the Morningstar Home Heating Relief Fund, visit

Seniors seeking heating assistance can call 831-9893.

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